Lipid modulation of membrane protein properties

Dr. Adam Smith and Grant Gilmore

Human cells produce hundreds of different lipid species, and the lipid complements of even closely related cells are diverse. Membrane lipid compositions are also highly susceptible to external inputs, especially cholesterol, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and gangliosides. In animal models, deprivation of ω-3 PUFAs leads to neurodevelopmental deficits in the offspring. However, the biomolecular connection between lipid composition and cellular function is not well-understood. In this project the student will conduct experiments to determine how lipid content is coupled to membrane protein function. Cultured cells will be supplemented with different lipid inputs, and the effects on membrane proteins will be measured using quantitative biophysical methods. This project is part of a collaborative research grant focused on neurological pathologies associated with brain lipid composition.

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